German Pirate Party Elect 15 Members to Berlin State Parliament

The biggest-ever election victory for anti-copyright group.

COLOGNE, Germany - The Pirate Party, the movement which aims to reform or abolish online copyright laws, scored the greatest victory in its short political life when it elected 15 members to Berlin's state parliament. The Pirates secured 8.9 per cent of the total vote, making them the fifth largest party in the city state.

That success shocked Germany's traditional political parties and seemed to surprise even the Pirates themselves.

"If we'd known we would do so well, we would have put forth more candidates," Andreas Baum, the leading candidate for the Pirates in Berlin, told German television. As it was, every one of the party's 15 candidates were elected.

There are official Pirate parties in 16 European countries but up till now the only major electoral success had been in Sweden, which elected two Pirate members to the European Parliament in 2009.

Sunday's vote is certain to add weight to the Pirate's call for reform of current copyright laws, in particular their demand that operators of anonymous file-sharing sites should not be held criminally responsible for the activity of their users. The Hollywood Studios and many copyright holders blame such sites, including the recently shuttered, for rampant online piracy of films and television shows which they claim costs them billions in lost revenue.

In Berlin, the Pirate Party downplayed its platform of copyright reform, stressing instead the need for greater "democracy and transparency" in the German capital. The strategy paid off. In national elections in 2009, the Pirate Party received just 2 per cent of the overall vote and only 3.4 per cent in Berlin.